So this might sort of ruin you so good.
Because it’s that one meal that no matter which way you look at it, you can’t kick it out of your mouth. You can’t. And because I was feeling a bit nostalgic whilst listening to some Alanis Morrisette the other day, I added baby spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. I DON’T KNOW IT TIED TOGETHER IN MY HEAD OKAY?
But look. It’s risotto. With barley. Which is somewhat of an overlooked grain, don’t you think? Isn’t it ironic? Just kidding, I know what irony means. (So does Lelaina Pierce. Well, she can’t define it, but she knows it when she sees it! <–name that movie.)
And what eeeerbody loves about weeknight cooking, is that this is one-pan! It all takes place in one lil’ spot, so the rage you feel in your soul governed to cleaning may commence to vanishment. (wait, did I just invent another word?)
Look how simple this is! All pantry and fridge stuff.
So first, dice up a couple of chicken breasts, and sear them in a pan with a few Tbs. of real butter. And I mean REAL butter. None of that weird alien stuff in a tub. This is your one life, go real. (my fist is in the air right now.) You want a little browning all over because you’re a good person deep down. Now dust the chicken with garlic powder and Italian seasoning. See? Simple.
Next up, we build our risotto! Add some diced onion into the buttery pan, and get a little color on it. Let it sauté about five minutes, past the sweating and a smidge into browning. Then add the dried barley. Let it toast in the buttery onions for a minute or two, just enough to get all coated and happy with itself. You know.
Theeeen, you can definitely add a splash of white wine, like you traditionally do with risotto. I’ve been on a non-drinking thing during the weekdays (I know, I know), so I skipped it and went straight to chicken stock. And what you’ll do is ladle the (barely simmering) stock into the pan, a half cup at a time, and let the barley absorb the liquid, as you stir it around in the pan.
And I LIED TO YOU. Not out of malicious intent, but I forgot! There’s another little pot on a neighboring burner, keeping the chicken stock at a low simmer. Ssssssssssorry.
About 20 minutes into the ladle-ing, the barley will have absorbed most of the liquid, and it is now transforming into this velvety, creamy pan of self discovery. So while you’re at it, add the tomatoes and spinach! Let it wilt and become one with the risotto.
Remember the buttery chicken from before? Now is your chance in this world. Add it back.
LOVE IS PAIN.
There’s one tablespoon of butter left (could you not be happier right now?), so once the chicken is back in the pan, turn the heat off and toss the butter in, along with a little bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese. OMG yuz.
And there she is. Perfectly creamy, absurdly savory, and look at you using up that old box of barley from three years ago!
I won’t be mad if you make this for Valentine’s Day.
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 4 Tbs. butter, divided
- 1 Tbs. dried Italian seasoning
- 1 Tbs. garlic powder
- 1 medium white onion, finely diced
- 1 cup barley (quick cooking or medium cooking is fine)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 4 oz whole sun-dried tomatoes (from a jar)
- 1 (5 oz) tub baby spinach
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Coarse salt
- Heat 3 Tbs butter in a large sauté pan. Once melted and foaming, add the cubed chicken in a single layer, and let sit for a good three minutes so that the chicken browns on the bottom. Flip and sear another minute or two, seasoning with a pinch of salt, the garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Bring a small saucepan to a medium heat; add the chicken stock and let it lightly simmer while you start the risotto.
- Back in the sauté pan, add the diced onion with a small pinch of salt. Sauté the onion for a few minutes, until you start to get a little color. Add the barley and and toss it in the buttery onions to coat and toast a minute. Then, add the warm chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring the barley to absorb the liquid. Once the barley absorbs the stock, add another ladle. Keep adding stock over the course of about 20 minutes, until the barley is creamy, plump and tender. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the spinach (in handfuls), until the spinach fully wilts and pops in color. Add the chicken and its collected juices back to the pan.
- Turn the heat off and add the last Tbs. of butter, along with the grated parmesan. Toss toss toss. Taste it right now. Need anymore salt? A tad? No? Yes? This is your life.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and more cheeeeeese!
- Serves four.
(This post is definitely in partnership with Go Bold With Butter, but all ramblings and butter slurpings are totally my own. We coo?)
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